Earl Bamber has continued up front in the No. 19 Porsche 919 Hybrid at the 15-hour mark of this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, after taking over from Nick Tandy.
Bamber’s No. 19 Porsche and Benoit Treluyer in the No. 7 Audi R18 e-tron quattro briefly exchanged the lead in the 15th hour during the pit stop sequence, but Bamber returned to the top spot once the latest cycle was complete.
Meanwhile, there was drama further down the order in LMP2 and GTE-Pro, involving both the second-place car in both LMP2 and GTE-Pro just shy of the 14-hour mark.
Fernando Rees, after a pit stop to change brakes in his No. 99 Aston Martin Vantage V8, contacted Tristan Gommendy, in the No. 46 Thiriet by TDS Racing Oreca 05 Nissan in a classic left front-to-right rear incident at the first chicane on the Mulsanne.
Gommendy’s car was stranded in the gravel trap and went back to the garage, ahead of a likely but as yet unofficial retirement. Rees limped back to the pit lane with left front damage, and his car was then wheeled into the garage, with significant repairs underway.
Rees had taken over the car from Richie Stanaway, who had built nearly a minute lead on Tommy Milner in the No. 64 Corvette C7.R. Milner also pitted for a brake change and a switch to Jordan Taylor, in a pit stop that went without incident.
Several cars benefited as a result of the incident. The No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia, now driven by Gianmaria Bruni, took over the lead from the Corvette and Aston Martin in GTE-Pro.
Taylor briefly regained the lead once Bruni handed the car off to Giancarlo Fisichella in the fifteenth hour, while Fisichella reassumed the point once Taylor stopped.
Meanwhile in LMP2, the No. 26 G-Drive Racing Ligier JS P2 Nissan and No. 48 Murphy Prototypes Oreca 03R Nissan moved up a spot apiece to second and third and into podium position, behind the No. 47 KCMG Oreca 05 Nissan.
KCMG is continuing untroubled up front in LMP2, with the No. 98 Aston Martin Vantage V8 and No. 72 SMP Racing Ferrari F458 Italia continuing to exchange the lead in GTE-Am depending on pit stops.
The three American entries in GTE-Am, the No. 77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR, No. 62 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari F458 Italia and No. 53 Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper GTS-R, continue to run third through fifth in class in the search for a class podium.
The only other new official retirement is the No. 43 Team SARD-Morand entry, which brings the total of retirees up to eight with nine hours remaining.
Light rain is possible later this morning, which could throw an additional variable into the race.
RESULTS: Hour 15